Technology has certainly made giant strides throughout the past few decades. Although it might be harder for the younger generation to comprehend, a large amount of people remember life before computers and the World Wide Web. Yes, there once was a time when thank you cards were sent only through the postal service and students had no other choice but to do their research using books. Not everyone has jumped on the internet highway though. Whether it is due to a lack of finances, lack of availability, lack of need or simply a lack of desire there are plenty of individuals living life happily without computers and/or the internet.
There is a debate pertaining to the existence or non- existence of The Digital Divide. Simply put, The Digital Divide refers to the gap between individuals with access to information technology and those with ineffective or no access. Having “access” is not limited to only physical access of technological means but also being able to access the skills and knowledge needed to effectively participate in our digital world.
It is called The Digital Divide but it is much more than just being digital. Some would argue that The Digital Divide is a non-existing myth while others feel it is a crisis among us.
I happen to think that The Digital Divide does not really fall into either one of these categories. I will admit that I have somewhat of a cynical attitude about this subject for varying reasons.
Not everyone wants to be a digital citizen, especially if it means that the government is in charge of it. In today’s world it is very possible to be active on the internet without needing it in your own home. Even better than that, you don’t necessarily even need your own computer. Internet cafes and clubs have become very popular for non-digital users while public libraries also have free access for the public to be able to get online.
These institutions are more than happy to allow the public access to their equipment and connection. Having your own laptop will make it much easier because all you have to do is go to breakfast at McDonalds and boom, you are surfing the web. When there are public options for people I find it very hard to call The Digital Divide a crisis. The United States government focuses on “expanding broadband internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring that the internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth” (NTIA.doc. gov).
For each and every opportunity that is provided by the internet, exploitation is not far behind. Perhaps the American government did not take every variable into account back in the late 90’s; if they did; they certainly did not make us aware. Education was the catalyst for promoting the internet to the American public. There is an abundance of information at your fingertips and it is so convenient to find. I have always remembered a saying from an early age which is, “just because you read it in print does not make it true”.
This saying fits perfectly when discussing the web. Anyone in this world has the ability to display whatever they wish to even if it is inaccurate and incorrect. Sometimes it can be tricky to weed out what information is true or false. As wonderful as it is to be able to find a slew of data in a matter of seconds the accuracy of that data is almost always in question. Crime has taken on a whole new persona since it stepped into our computers. Now citizens have to worry about crimes against them in the real world as well as the virtual world.
Since many people perform their everyday tasks from their computer they are at risk of being a victim. There is no longer the need to go shopping, pay bills, see a movie or go to school away from the comforts of home. The best thing about being able to do these things online is the convenience it lends you and saving on gas. Any way to save on gas these days is useful. There is an ever present danger with condensing these types of actions into your computer. Security breaches are very possible, even with protection, and identity fraud can happen to anyone at any time.
Hackers are professionals at breaking and entering into your digital home. The government should take a step back and focus on issues that do fall under the category of crisis. When they decide to get involved everything gets more expensive. Taxes will almost definitely be attached somehow to compensate for funds. The American taxpayers are already getting ripped off in too many ways and we do not need any more of our freedoms lessened by what the government assumes is the best thing. Businesses will have no choice but to expand their zones in order to be able to serve each and every person.
Having sufficient manpower and resources to tack on this extra workload would force companies to expand and spend money they may not have. Free enterprise will be thrown out the window. Not everyone wants to be digital. Many people would not want, use or need the internet. There are a large number of individuals who only use the internet for minimal entertainment purposes and they choose not to pay for it because of that. Getting online to check your email, social media site and play games is very common.
In fact, many students have actually had their productivity and grades drop because instead of using the internet for education and school they are chatting away and being social. If education was the main reason that Americans should get online then the government has already wasted their time. Knowledge and wisdom seem to have taken a backseat to posting what you are about to order for dinner and how handsome your waiter is. This Digital Divide that people may believe is a big crisis is not the only division that people have seen.
Since the dawn of time there have been divisions between people for one reason or another. The world has only operated with computers present for a short amount of its time and it would continue to operate if the internet ceased to exist. There is obviously a very big part of us that is technological but we are still in the real world. It is not a division of just digital or not; it is a division of finances, society and education. Just because the government jumps in does not mean there will be any changes or improvement.
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